About 150 people have died or are neglected in Guatemala due to mudslides caused by the powerful Eta storm that buried an entire village, President Alejandro Giammattei said Friday.
The toll is on top of the roughly 20 people who have died elsewhere in Central America since Eta landed in Nicaragua as a hurricane on Tuesday.
Giammattei said an army unit had arrived in the northern village of Queja to begin the rescue effort.
A preliminary report by the troops found that “150 houses were buried with 100 dead,” he said.
Giammattei added that another mudslide left 10 dead in the northeastern Huehuetenango department on the border with Mexico.
“We calculated that between the deaths and those missing, the unofficial figures show around 150 deaths,” said Giammattei.
He said the situation in Queja was “critical” as heavy rain continued to fall and triggered new mudslides while the roads were still blocked.
Around 2,500 people in the impoverished Mayan indigenous region had lost their belongings in the flood of mud.
“Flash Flood” Risk
Eta sped through Central America, leaving death and destruction since it first struck Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane.
It left Honduras as a tropical depression two days later, though weather forecasters warned it could intensify into a tropical storm again en route to Cuba.
Cuba started taking measures on Friday to mitigate the effects of Eta. It should appear on Sunday.
Though Eta had lost power, the US National Hurricane Center continued to warn of “life-threatening flash floods” in parts of Central America.
The storm brought heavy rain that caused deadly flooding in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama.
Two people died in Nicaragua, where Eta broke through impoverished coastal areas and swept entire villages away.
Landslides in Panama buried two houses in Chiriqui province on the Costa Rican border, killing five people, the national protection system said. There were three children among the victims.
The storm also destroyed homes, roads, bridges and plantations in Chiriqui.
Landslides claimed the lives of two children in Honduras, emergency services reported.
In Costa Rica, a 71-year-old American and his Costa Rican wife died when a landslide buried their home in the southern canton of Coto Brus on the border with Panama.
Around 1,400 people in the southern and Pacific coastal regions were taken to shelters after rivers broke their banks during heavy rainfall and flooded large areas.
A fisherman was killed Thursday in El Salvador, where authorities evacuated 1,700 people whose homes were threatened by flooding, the civil protection agency said.
Guatemala reported 50 deaths earlier Thursday, including two children aged 11 and two whose fragile family home was swept away, according to the local civil protection agency.
As the surface layer of the oceans warms due to climate change, hurricanes are getting stronger and carrying more water, which is an increasing threat to the world‘s coastal communities, scientists say.
Storm surges, amplified by rising seas, can be particularly devastating.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)